Charles Ludlam, founder Ridiculous Theatrical Company

Charles Ludlam (1943 – 1987) was an actor, director, and playwright born on Long Island NY. He started his theater career while still in high school, performing with friends and in school plays. He received a degree in dramatic literature from Hofstra University in 1964.

Ludlam joined John Vaccaro’s Play-House of the Ridiculous, and after a falling out, founded his own Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1967. His first plays were rudimentary exercises, but they eventually moved into structure plays by Lorca, Shakespeare and Wagner. Some plays he wrote were based on popular culture and were humorous plays with dark or serious undertones. His goal was to be absurd or ridiculous while making a social point.

He won six Obie Awards over the course of his career, as well as working with New York University, Connecticut College, Yale University and Carnegie Mellon. Ludlam often appeared in his plays, and was noted for his female roles.

Ludlam was diagnosed with AIDS in March 1987. He died one month later of pneumonia. The block in front of Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village is named in his honor.

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